Mike Isaac

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With New Platform Updates, Facebook Continues Its Mobile Developer Lovefest

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook Home launch event.

Facebook kicked off the first of three developer events on Thursday, continuing its push to court mobile coders to build applications atop the Facebook platform.

Aside from continuing to boast high stats on download rates for apps built atop the platform, the company launched a series of new features and tools for its platform at the Manhattan event, aiming to make it as easy as possible for mobile developers to integrate their apps into the very fabric of Facebook.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty, as it’s pretty nerdy stuff. But, in a nutshell, the new tools make it somewhat easier for developers to share user activity from their apps to Facebook, with features like native sharing code, a faster mobile login, and a new version of the Facebook software developer kit for iOS. Basically, more tools for mobile devs.

That matters, Facebook reminds us, because small-time developers face a constant uphill battle in pushing out and promoting their applications amid the crowded typical markets like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

“Your app is a pale blue dot — to paraphrase Carl Sagan — in the app cosmos,” said Doug Purdy, director of platform products, at the event. “So how do you get found in that cosmos?”

Better sharing features, the pitch goes, make your app more surface-able within the Facebook network, which in turn will drive more people to the respective app markets to install your app. In addition to Thursday’s launches, Facebook has pushed updates to Timeline, the launch of Graph Search and ongoing tweaks to News Feed over the past year, all in the name of giving better placement to outside app activity.

Facebook Home questions and answers session.Benevolent of Facebook? More like a sense of enlightened self-interest. Facebook needs third-party app activity to populate its News Feed in order to keep the public inside the Facebook app, scrolling through the feed and engaged on a regular basis.

Turns out that folks like messing around with app activity and photos much more than just text-based status updates. Facebook scratches your back with better sharing tools, and you’ll scratch Facebook’s back by keeping eyeballs on the feed.

The social giant isn’t the only company trying to court developers. Facebook’s New York conference falls just two weeks after Twitter’s recent mobile developer conference. There, the microblogging service unveiled improved and expanded versions of Twitter Cards, Twitter’s developer-centric technology that better integrates outside stuff like video, pictures and stories into Twitter’s platform.

Again, the philosophy here is simple: The more content-rich a company’s stream is, the more you’ll see people stick around the product in the long run.

Now the onus is on developers to choose which platforms — if any — they’ll decide to build atop of, and how much work they’ll put into it.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google